Posted BY: Rabbi Michael Barclay
Why do we actually have synagogues or churches, what are their purposes, and what is antithetical to those actual purposes? Do orgies and drag queens belong in houses of worship?
In these challenging times when religiosity is being attacked by the secular through politics and media, it may be more important than ever to evaluate these questions, look at how so many houses of worship are acting, and whether their behavior is actually consonant with God and religion, or if they are just trying to appeal to the lowest common denominators of humanity in order to increase membership and finances. As a Rabbi, the majority of this examination will be in the Jewish world, although we find parallels in both the traditional teachings and current practices in the Christian world as well.
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Although there are examples earlier, synagogues truly grew in prevalence after the destruction of the Second Temple in the first century. Local houses of worship were needed to replace the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem. Called “temples”, “synagogues”, or “shuls”, they were created so that Jewish communities would be able to worship and study together in a sacred space.